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Youth in Jamaica create radio spots to combat AIDS stigma

UNICEF Image: Jamaica: Youth radio
© UNICEF Haiti/2006
A youth radio training programme supported by UNICEF and the Panos Institute in Haiti, just like the one recently introduced in Jamaica.

By Blue Chevigny

NEW YORK, USA 27 December 2006 – “Treat children living with HIV the same way you would like to be treated,” a young man’s voice implores from the radio. “We are not little monsters. We have feelings too,” says another.

These are the simple messages in one of the youth-produced public service announcements that will be aired on radio stations throughout Jamaica in the coming year. 

UNICEF, UNAIDS, the Panos Institute and a group of children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS partnered this month to create the PSAs. Their goals: to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with the disease and promote the rights of children living with HIV and AIDS.

Nine-month training programme

Nothing is as effective as a plaintive request from a child. Even more intense, to the listener, is a message that the child herself has crafted, then put together as a radio spot on her own.

Based on that approach, the Jamaican radio PSAs present poignant testimonies and calls to action by 12 young people. The PSAs are the result of a nine-month training programme for 8- to 20-year-olds in basic journalism, sex and reproductive health issues, and children’s rights. 

Throughout their training, the children and adolescents were vocal about the way they are treated by adults who they feel should know better – especially nurses, doctors and police officials, as well as the wider community.

‘Help them – don’t hurt them’

Younger children reported that they felt hurt when they were called ‘AIDS victims’. The youths cited other factors that affect them most, including:

  • Discrimination, violence, insults and threats
  • Poor access to youth-friendly services and medicines
  • Lack of family and community support.

“My mother is HIV-positive. Sometimes she is very sick. It makes me sad,” says a child in another one of the PSAs. “Do you know what makes me feel worse?” he continues. “Sometimes people in the community tease her and treat her very badly. Please don’t discriminate against people living with HIV. Help them – don’t hurt them.”

The youth radio training programme in Jamaica is an important contribution to the global campaign, UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS. The PSAs are being made available to all radio broadcasters who wish to help end stigma and discrimination against children and adults affected by HIV and AIDS.




26 December 2006:
UNICEF Radio correspondent Blue Chevigny showcases examples of radio PSAs against HIV/AIDS produced by youths in Jamaica.
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